On February 28 and 29, 2020, McGeorge had the honor of hosting the 22nd Annual Trina Grillo Social Justice Retreat, “Advancing Social Justice from Within.” Named after USF’s law professor Trina Grillo (1948-1996), the conference is hosted by various West Coast law schools on a rotating basis. Professor Grillo was renowned for her innovative teaching style and scholarly works that celebrated differences and focused on social justice issues. The two-day retreat emphasized helping individuals reconnect and re-energize from within, while also exploring ways to bring about change through one’s own actions as well as through the Capitol.
Students, faculty, and staff from eleven law schools—from University of Washington, to LA-area schools, to UNLV—were in attendance for the weekend event. The first day of the retreat began with a tour of the capitol building, immediately followed by a stirring committee room conversation led by McGeorge alum Aaron Brieno (2014), the Capitol Director in Senator Ben Hueso’s office. The evening was capped off with a fantastic reception co-hosted by McGeorge’s Capital Center for Law & Policy. Saturday session topics included “Careers In and Around the Capital;” “Education, Equity, and Policy;” “Voter Suppression: Election Protection;” and “Career Visioning,” along with several other insightful and moving discussions. Among the featured McGeorge speakers were Professor Ederlina Co, Professors Emeriti Brian Landsberg and Dorothy Landsberg, and alumna Elizabeth Kim. Representatives from various outside law schools, government and non-profit agencies also presented, including a former New Jersey Administrative Law Judge, a Director for the Office of Equity at the CA Department of Social Services, and a Legislative Advocate for the ACLU Center for Advocacy & Policy.
The scheduled activities and discussions promoted community building across law schools and between all involved. One student attending from another school reported that they had not realized how isolated they had felt before the retreat, and now felt reconnected to the social justice community.
Special thanks go to Associate Dean of Career Development Molly Stafford and Director of Government & Capital Employment Erin O’Neal Muilenburg for taking the lead in organizing this year’s retreat. Reflecting on the meaning of the retreat, Dean Stafford noted, “McGeorge is uniquely situated in Sacramento. Our proximity to the state Capitol and focus on educating the next generation of attorneys and activists working at the intersection of law and policy allows us to highlight the powerful justice work being done by lawyers, lobbyists and legislative professionals in the capital arena.”